Questions and answers

Questions and answers

Potential clients often ask us about the company, our cooperation approach and the way we work. Please find answers for the most frequent questions on this page.

If you cannot find an answer, please email us.

General

What differentiates you from your competitors?
  • 24-years’ experience on the international market, with focus on the USA, the UK and the EU.
  • The focus on establishing long-term relationships with the clients. Our oldest client has been working with us since 1996.
  • We are experienced in building dedicated teams. We:
    • unveil individual potentials and balance personal strengths
    • provide guidance and training to enhance technology skill sets and implant common business culture
    • propagate the client's values and goals as the team’s shared mission and introduce shared responsibility and result-oriented approach across team members.
  • The teams are assembled and maintained by high-end delivery managers who take responsibility for team integrity and compliance with the client’s processes.
  • Our corporate history of average 10+ years’ B2B relationships proves the concept of near shore development justified and beneficial for our clients.
  • Within the common distributed team, we can work separately and deliver high-quality code.
  • We pay a lot of attention to testing our deliveries (functional, security, usability, load, performance, acceptance testing). Around 30 % of our production staff are quality assurance specialists.
  • Strong technology focus on Microsoft, Java, LAMP, Mobile.
  • Excellent technical skills of employees.
  • All employees are English-speaking; English is our internal business language.
  • All employees are located in St. Petersburg, a proven international R&D destination.

Staff

Where is your team located?
Most of Arcadia's engineers work in our HQ office in St. Petersburg, which is the largest R&D center in Russia. We also have a small development office in Taganrog — a city in the Southern part of Russia.
What is the average length of employment for a team member?
The average employment length in Arcadia is 4.1 years.
What percentage of your total headcount left the company in the last 12 months?
For few years our annual attrition rate is about 15% (calculated with interns and probationers; few percents less without them):
  • In 2010 — 14.5%
  • In 2011 — 12.7%
  • In 2012 — 14.6%
  • In 2013 — 16.3%
  • In 2014 — 15.5%
  • In 2015 — 15.1%
  • In 2016 — 15.7%

    Resource Management

    How many dedicated developers/testers/analysts/managers are in your team?

    The distribution is:

    • Dedicated developers — 71%
    • Dedicated testers — 22%
    • Dedicated business analysts — 1%
    • Dedicated project managers — 6%.
    What would you expect your general lead time would be to add five additional development resources to a pool?

    This depends greatly on a number of factors: required skills (how many people with such skills or set of skills are available on the market), level of experience (seniors are harder to find), time of the year, etc.

    On average, we can hire 5 FTEs of medium level within one month and 5 FTEs of senior level within 2-3 months.

    What is your contractual notice period for a departing employee? How does this relate to employment law in the proposed location?

    On the company level, we ask our people to communicate the intention to leave the company as early as possible, at least in 3 months. In the majority of cases, that works.

    However, we have to mention that, according to the local laws, the person can quit the company with only two weeks’ notice. The same law prohibits to set a longer notice period in a labour contract. Our HR and team managers take all possible measures to avoid such situations.

    Which time zones can you provide coverage for?

    We cover at least half of working time practically for every time zone by means of our flexible work hours. Having 2 hours’ time difference with Europe at winter time and an hour in summer, our hours are practically synced with European customers as people working with them start at 10-11 am.

    Teams working with US customers usually start later to finish the work at 10-11 pm (7/8 hours’ time difference at summer/winter time with East Coast). With customers from other time zones, we are usually able to find compromising adjustment of work hours to ensure overlap for communications and common work.

    Developing a Dedicated Team

    What size of a team do you think is the right fit? What is the best composition of skill sets in a team?

    An average project team in Arcadia is 20 people (ranging from 10 to 30 people according to the scale and complexity of the task) with developers/testers team ratio from 3:1 to 4:1. A single client’s ODC can include several project teams (from 10 to 80 people).

    A sample team structure:

    • PM / scrum master: 1
    • Tech lead: 1
    • Business analyst: 1
    • Senior developer (5+ years’ experience): 1-3
    • Developer (2-5 years’ experience): 3-7
    • Senior tester (5+ years’ experience): 1-2
    • Tester (2-5 years’ experience): 2-5
    • Total: 10-20

    Exact structure of each team depends on project tasks, complexity, etc.

    Do you have any requirements for a minimum commitment?

    As we aim to establish long-term relationships with our clients, the minimal desired contract length is one year with a team of 5 persons.

    For the initial period, we usually offer to set up a small pilot project for 1-3 person-months.

    Do you offer any additional services, which would help in team construction?
    • We don’t just assign people with needed technical skills; we build teams taking into account personal relationships between people, so the team works as one organism.
    • We let the client participate in the final stage of team construction — reviewing and interviewing candidates. This allows the client to impact team construction and gives understanding of candidates’ skill levels and ability to cover the client’s real needs.
    • Our team is totally transparent; we do not hide resources behind one contact person assigned to communicate with the client. All team members are available for communication.
    • We follow best practices and modern approaches to software development and delivery (Microsoft guidelines, SCRUM, etc.)
    How do you ensure client teams are not affected by staff turnover and career progression?

    Arcadia strives to avoid the situation when any critical part of the business depends only on one person and ensure some backup ability of key persons.

    All materials, contacts and other important info about the project is stored in a common repository. So in case of vacation, departure or sick leave we would not get situation when absent employee is the only one person who holds critical information about the project.

    We always ask our employees to notify us about planned departure in advance, preferably 3 months. For this period we add a new team member (these additional costs are covered by Arcadia) who takes over the knowledge about the project and about work done by the departing employee.

    Software Development Process

    Which development methodologies do you currently support?

    We support different software development methodologies, from classic waterfall (practically not used any more) to evolutionary prototyping, but main methodology is based on agile approach, mainly different modifications of SCRUM customized for customer needs.

    Having huge experience here we easy adopt customer methodology if it has mature and established software development process, or could use our own, or could suggest some modifications for customer methodology to be more effective in outsourcing model.

    What’s your approach to training on the client’s system in general?

    We assign key persons with great experience – typically, a business analyst and a tech lead – to study the client’s system. That takes usually 2-4 weeks (depending on complexity of the system). Quite useful is starting with a kick-off meeting which usually takes not more than one week at the client’s site.

    During these kick-off meetings, the client grants Arcadia’s experts access to the application, source code and documentation; Arcadia’s experts gather all available information about the client’s application. Even more important established on such meeting contacts helps a lot with further communications and common work.

    After that, Arcadia’s experts continue to study the system at Arcadia’s site and collect all the questions about its functionality. And with that we usually ask for a small assignment – a small new feature implementation or bug fixing which allows us to try the system and make sure we have the right understanding.

    How would you work with onshore client’s resources?

    Most projects are done in SCRUM methodology. We are experienced in performing projects both in distributed and in separate teams.

    Working with human resources:

    • Distributed team - usually in SCRUM methodology adjusted to Client:
      • daily SCRUM meetings for current situation discussion,
      • weekly meetings between Arcadia’s project manager, site manager and Client’s main contact person for the project,
      • for daily and weekly meetings we use chat and voice tools – Skype, Lync, GoToMeeting, WebEx, and so on,
      • for establishing better collaboration we suggest regular (usually once in 3 months) face-to-face meetings performed in turn on Arcadia’s and Client’s site. This allows both parts of the distributed team to get to know each other better.
    • Separate team - we ask the Client to assign a contact person with which we agree a suitable communication model. We can work in SCRUM or waterfall. In this case most interaction is needed at the initial stage — drawing technical requirements (waterfall) or drawing a vision document, backlog and planning releases (SCRUM). In this case periodical face-to-face meetings are also appreciated.

    Working with IT resources - If version control system and other tools (bug tracking, reporting, etc.) used in application development are on Client’s side, we organize a secure VPN channel and remotely work with the Client’s resources

    Described above is a general model which can be tailored to Client’s needs in every detail.

    What are your recommendations for on-site visits by your technical staff to our office in the Europe, UK and in the US?
    All Arcadia’s employees have international passports and can travel to Schengen zone, UK or USA. For site visits we suggest:
    • Kick-off meeting (1 week) at the start of the project for getting knowledge about Client’s system,
    • Regular face-to-face meetings (as described above),
    • Sometimes, testing is done on Client’s side before release. This can be done to facilitate and accelerate the process of final stage. Usually it takes 3-4 weeks,
    • In case of special needs, our employees can work on Client’s side for up to 3 months.
    How do you invest in developing and training employees?
    Different ways:
    • Arcadia considers it important that employee’s development and training occurs frequently, and reserves the budget to ensure majority of the people update their skills every one or two years. Usually the decision on determining training needs is made on department/project team level within defined budget. On company level we mainly motivate people in certification;
    • Our employees participate in professional events (conferences, seminars). We also encourage our employees to become speakers on such events.
    How do you ensure knowledge is retained and transferred?
    • Sharing technical knowledge between employees is encouraged — both informally and during occasional knowledge-sharing presentations where certain employees tell about most recent technologies, methodologies and other aspects of software development they’ve learned;
    • Internal library (paper books + intranet electronic library replenished regularly with new editions of technical literature and materials of learning courses, seminars etc.) - a vast resource of reference and learning materials available to every staff member.

    Communication Technology

    What technologies/tools would you recommend to aid communications between the external and internal teams?
    In most cases we use Skype/Skype for Business, GoToMeeting, phone conference calls and e-mails lists for everyday communications on projects. This can be adjusted according to client’s preferences.
    What kind of reporting tools would you recommend?
    In most projects we use JIRA, Confluence or SharePoint sites as common repositories for the documents and as tools for reporting and other project documentation.

    Service Quality

    How do you measure the effectiveness of teams?

    There are different procedures according to client’s tasks and preferences. In general, these procedures fall under 2 main types:

    1. Periodical assessment of performance of the whole team and of each team member individually. This assessment includes such measures of team performance as:
      • Number of user stories delivered per sprint/release per team (in %),
      • Ratio: what was delivered to what was committed as to be delivered (in %),
      • etc.
    2. Measuring client satisfaction. We have a set of questions grouped by topics (quality, communication, domain knowledge, etc.). This questionnaire is filled in by team members of Client’s team on periodical basis, usually each quarter.
    How do you measure individual performance?

    As Arcadia does not have its own products and each team is dedicated to a client, individual assessment procedures depend on client’s requirements and on individual professional growth targets:

    • Assessment feedback from the Client regarding each team member:
      • easiness of communication
      • knowledge of English language and professional tools,
      • speed of reaction on requests,
      • knowledge of the Client product(s)
    • Self-assessment
      • books read in main professional area,
      • trainings passed and certifications received,
      • how these new knowledge and skills affected work results, etc.
    How do you measure whether you’re doing a good job?
    We consider the following measures:
    • achieving planned results on time and on budget,
    • feedback from client,
    • number of issues reported by users during maintenance period,
    • once a year we ask one or two of our Clients to fill in CSAT report, which is intended to measure the overall satisfaction with Arcadia’s services.

    Business Continuity

    What is the level of your professional insurance?
    Arcadia supports professional indemnity insurance (5 millions Euro world-wide coverage) and general liability insurance (10 millions US Dollar world-wide coverage) both with AIG as insurer.
    What are your plans for recovery after a major incident at any of your sites?
    Due to the specifics of our business we consider four major components in Business Continuity in general, and in Disaster recovery plan in particular, for recovery after major incidents:
    1. Ability to recover operation-critical data at least - the solution is to make back-ups and, where possible, keep on-going project data on the Client site (very often development and testing environments are on the Client’s servers or replicated on it after each minor iteration).
    2. Ability to recover critical part of IT infrastructure - we have no second data centre, however, we reserve the opportunity to deploy it at another location within a short time (depends on the situation, in testing room which is close in infrastructure to data centre, or at external hosting centre). Some services (e.g. ISP channels) are duplicated. The majority of the people are ready to start working remotely from home as soon as critical servers part is recovered, all services required for this occasion are in place.
    3. Financial planning - business continuity risks are taken into account at financial planning to ensure recovery funds are available, at least on some essential level (we also invest in the preventive measures).
    4. Personnel - company tries to avoid the situation when any critical part of the business depends only on one person and ensure some backup ability of key persons.

    Security

    How do you propose to make secure code transfers – in either direction?

    We usually use VPN connection for remote access to Arcadia’s servers or to Client’s servers (in case if the code is stored on Client’s side). The code is committed to repository through VPN. In case of sftp transfer, we create a special FTP account for every client. As soon as the Client confirms that the data is transferred successfully, we remove them from FTP.

    Other tools can be chosen according to agreement with the client.

    Data security. Where will data be stored / accessed from apart from the Client premises?
    Special encrypted repository dedicated to the Client is created at one of Arcadia’s servers.

    Our servers are secured with firewall, with personal data access rights assigned to each employee. For each project, only employees engaged in development have access to information and code of the project.

    What steps do you take to ensure traceability / audit of changes?
    We use source control tools chosen according to agreement with the client. Usually we use Git, TFS or Subversion for this purpose. This allows to track changes and reasons for these changes.
    What test data would you set up and how would you manage this?
    If the Client for some reason cannot give us some part of original data for testing, we ask for a anonymized version of the same data with instruction about the formats of the data omitted due to anonymization.
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